Larry Schaaf

“I have captured a shadow!” –

William Henry Fox Talbot & the invention of photography

Thursday 15 Sept at 7pm, Telstra Clear Centre Room, Te Papa (Admission free)

William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877) was the English inventor of photography on paper. A brilliant scientist, mathematician and linguist, his appalling draughtsmanship propelled him into the invention of the art. Talbot’s recognition that the negative allowed the production of multiples of paper prints defined the mainstream of photography right up until the digital age.  Drawing on the extensive surviving archives of Talbot’s original photographs and manuscripts, Professor Schaaf demonstrates that beyond the act of invention, Talbot learned from what he invented and became the first artist to be trained by photography.

Dr Larry J Schaaf is a lapsed photographer and an independent photohistorian based in Baltimore, Maryland.  His introduction to the history of photography started four decades ago while teaching photography at The University of Texas at Austin, home of the Gernsheim Collection of Photography.  Schaaf is the author of numerous journal articles and books on the early history of photography.  He has held various institutional positions and fellowships, including being appointed as the Slade Professor of Fine Art at Oxford University in 2005.  His special area of study is William Henry Fox Talbot, the inventor of the negative and of photography on paper. Professor Schaaf is Director of the online Correspondence of William Henry Fox Talbot, which has published full searchable transcriptions of more than 10,000 of his letters.